This seems like an unnecessary question, but how often do we think about the fashion industry workers and the impact of social, economic and environmental impacts of fast fashion.
Those of us who are consumers can make mindful choices and support ethical making practices. There are many ways that you can show your support for Fashion Revolution week. Whether you are a citizen, a brand, a retailer, a producer or a maker. You can become a revolutionary as part of the movement towards a fair fashion industry that supports the well-being of workers and the environment.
This week from 23rd -29th April, 2018 marks the fifth annual roll out of Fashion Revolution week.
Fashion Revolution is the largest global fashion movement that runs annually. The non-profit movement was founded by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro in 2013, following the Rana Plaza collapse which resulted in the death of 1,132 and injury of 2,500 garment workers. Fashion Revolution week is a social media campaign that falls on the anniversary of this tragic disaster. In 2017, the owner of Rana Plaza the building which housed five garment factories, Sohel Rana, was found guilty of illegal earnings and potentially will face charges of murder. The case put the exploitation of garment industry workers on the world stage.
The aim of Fashion Revolution is to “unite people and organisations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way”. It’s also about raising awareness of the fashion industry’s concern for sustainable and ethical fashion. During this week, brands and producers are encouraged to respond with the #imadeyourclothes hastag on social media to showcase makers and their working conditions.
Fashion Revolution week also highlights the power of social media platforms to enhance fashion activism and give traction to industry influencers. Each country has its own coordinator, with 2.5 million people participating in 2017. The coordinator for Australia and New Zealand is Sydney-based Melinda Tually, who runs her own consultancy business Ndless, which operates as an ethical supply chain consultancy. However, she works in a voluntary capacity for Fashion Revolution week, driving her passion for an ethical fashion business, and is responsible for launching the main Instagram account @fash_rev which has attracted 124 000 followers.
The 2018 campaign has seen the roll out of collaborations between the iconic Australian department store David Jones and several Australian designers to develop a New Designer Capsule Collection to mark the week. The fashion houses of Manning Cartell, Nobody Denim, Viktoria & Woods and Bianca Spender, have contributed to the collection, with each piece being locally made and having accreditation from the Ethical Clothing Australia.
This showcase range has been available for online shopping since April 15 and in store at David Jones in its Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street stores in Sydney since April 16.
The practice of local production and a transparent disclosure of who has made the clothes was key to the selection of these designers. Each of the designers has engaged in transparent efforts towards sustainable and ethical production practices, including local production and re purposing of materials. For example, designer Bianca Spender collaborated with Sydney-based social enterprise The Social Outfit, a social enterprise which provides fashion industry employment and training for people from refugee and new migrant situations. Trained garment workers from The Social Outfit have worked on each of the Bianca Spencer pieces.
Although Fashion Revolution week for 2018 has now passed there are still ways that we as individuals can make choices that extend the life cycle of garments such as seeking second hand and hand made alternatives; repairing and altering garments rather than discarding. It’s time to appreciate the hard work involved in garment creation. This movement has the potential to change the way industry workers are treated, the scale of production, and to lessen environmental impacts of fashion waste, pollutants, and the impact of landfill on the environment.